NASA crashed a tiny spacecraft into an asteroid Monday at 14,000 mph to explore if such a device may eventually safeguard Earth from a catastrophic disaster.
The DART spacecraft's dramatic finale pleased scientists and engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
Dimorphos, the size of a stadium or the Great Pyramid of Giza, is 7 million miles from Earth. It orbits Didymos. Neither now nor in the near future threatens our planet.
NASA was testing a kinetic impactor, a possible planetary defence technology. The goal is to hit a deadly asteroid just enough to change its orbit.
The California-launched spacecraft was the size of a vending machine or golf cart. Before the final approach, Dimorphos' form and composition were unclear.
Scientists expected an asteroid plume but no structural changes. It's like a bug on a windshield.